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10th June 2015

The car that did not get away

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Regrettably, there are occasions when customers don’t pay their suppliers and creditors have to resort to one of the available legal procedures to recover the money owed.

The right procedure to follow will depend on the case. Sometimes the debtor can’t pay the debt and an insolvency procedure is the right course to take. In other cases, the debtor won’t pay because he is unwilling to part with what cash he has or to let property of his go to meet his liability to the creditor. Where the debtor wants to avoid insolvency, then the risk of facing an insolvency procedure can be persuasive, however pursuing an insolvency may not be right for the creditor. Among other reasons, other creditors might get involved (unsecured creditors are entitled to share in the bankrupt’s estate in proportion to their debts after the bankruptcy expenses have been paid) and the recovery process may be taken out of the creditor’s hands along the way. Bankruptcy costs can be high and experienced debtors can make life expensive for the creditor in the process. If a creditor can direct his efforts at the debtor’s personal assets or his interest in a house or other rights that he might have (for example, to sums owed to him), then in the right case, that may well produce a higher or quicker recovery for the creditor at less cost. The creditor may not have to face the risk of sharing the recoveries with other creditors either.

We have assisted a company in precisely this way recently. Having obtained a Court Judgment against the individual for the sum owed, we engaged a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO). The debtor was repeatedly untruthful about his situation (claiming he was petitioning for his own bankruptcy, when he was not) and did everything he could to put us and the HCEO off the scent. However, with our own enquiries we were able to track the debtor down and despite the debtor’s best efforts to dissemble, with the assistance of the HCEO we were able to establish that a sports car of some value was property which could be seized and sold to settle part of the debt to our client.

The process we used in this case is just one of the options that we can offer our clients for recovering debts.

For information on our Standard Claims Service and Disputes and Litigation Services generally, contact Dominic Hopkins on 01604 463339 or click here to email Dominic.